Artist and self-confessed colour obsessive Rebecca Louise Law has previously referred to her work as “painting with flowers” and her current exhibition, Still Life: Sculpture & Prints by Rebecca Louise Law, at the Broadway Gallery in Letchworth, Hertfordshire is probably the most literal translation of this yet. The artist, who is most famous for her atmospheric overhead floral installations in the likes of Nagasaki, New York, London and Berlin – the latest included 8,000 blooms suspended from a 20 foot ceiling in a San Francisco gallery – has recreated famous paintings from the Dutch Golden Age using real flowers that will wilt and decay. Referencing works by artists including Balthasar van der Ast, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder and Jan Davidsz. de Heem, in some of her displays – such as de Heem’s Festoon of Fruit and Flowers – Rebecca has also integrated tiny figurines surrounded by flora to remind onlookers to dwell on the relationship between nature and humans. Fruit, shells, insects and taxidermy are also present in the resplendent works.
The sculpture works – some in frames, brass cases or Victorian cloches and some still life works on a mantle – are then captured in photographs that document the various stages of decay and the two mediums juxtapose with each other throughout the exhibition. What the photographs capture are vivid colours jumping out from black backgrounds, making them feel more sinister than the 3D works and bringing the concept of life and death strongly to mind.
Rebecca has been working with flowers since 2003 having had an epiphany in the final year of her Fine Art degree. When she was growing up, her father worked as a landscape gardener for the National Trust and, when encouraged by a tutor to reflect on things that had shaped her life, she remembered how her parents had dried flowers in the attic. Since then her work has been a series of magnificent room installations, with this latest exhibition taking a slightly different turn.
In her Flora and Fauna piece, she collaborated with artist Rose Robson who ‘arranges’ birds in flight. The result is an abstract bouquet of fading blooms with unexpected wings jutting out, the colours giving the whole thing the mood of an Autumnal table setting for an upscale thanksgiving dinner or wedding, only one in which death is a bit more present than normal.
The whole exhibition, vividly blending colour, nature and the macabre, is a must-see in our book. Catch it before it closes on the 9 October.